Quantum Gravitas

Towards a mathematical model for poetry

Poetry colours all aspects of human achievement. Many would argue that the greatest musicians, painters and scientists are distinguished by the poetic quality of their work, but analysis of the poetic content of more mundane activities is equally, if not more, important. An all-embracing theory of poetry should provide a reference system for assessing the contribution of events, ranging from chat-shows to academic enquiries, to the dignity of the human race. Although this has been widely recognised, attempts to analyse and define poetry are normally made with reference to specific content.

The tendency to come too close to the subject matter (the Icarus conundrum) has resulted in the failure to establish a unified theory. No such problem arises in a mathematical treatment, because symbolic representation introduces the required properties unencumbered by content. It then becomes very clear that the solution has been outlined elsewhere and that  poetic content can be defined as the amount by which the whole exceeds the sum of its parts.

Thus where W represents a whole, pi a part where n parts are required to make the whole, and where P represents poetry and Δ and Σ signify change in the amount of and sum of respectively, then for i→ 0 to n,  the change in poetic content equals the whole minus the sum of the parts:-

  ΔP = W - Σpi ……..(1)

The point and the validation of any mathematical treatment is prediction, and although the question is often asked, what is the consequence if the whole is less than the sum of its parts, the mathematical formulation leads to a very powerful prediction indeed. For all cases where W < Σpi, the value of ΔP is negative, predicting the existence of the whole world of negative poetry, and there is little doubt that examples of negative poetic content (i.e. P <0) are to be found everywhere.

There are good theoretical reasons to suppose that the coming into existence of the observable universe was a zero-sum process. Thus for every particle there is an anti-particle, but this falls down where energy is considered because there is, to date, no well-defined concept of negative energy. Despite this reservation, or even perhaps because of it, we shall consider whether or not the production of poetry is also a zero-sum process. Simply stated, this requires that for every increase in the poetic content of the universe there is a corresponding decrease. No matter how much the symmetry of the argument appeals, the unquestionable fact remains that instances of negative poetry far exceed those of positive poetry, suggesting that there is a threshold level determined by a local, or perhaps even universal, field G, which has recently been identified as Gravitas.

Hence the equation must be modified to show that the change in poetic content is the extent to which the whole, minus the sum the parts, exceeds the level set by gravitas:-


ΔP = W - Σpi - G ………(2)

For poetic content to increase, W must exceed Σpi by an amount greater than G. Cursory examination of the significance of G shows that it underlies two apparently contradictory properties; cohesion and diversity. From this it is clear that G can be identified with the weak, but all-pervading, force of gravitas.  Despite the success of this approach, it fails to take relativistic effects into account. Thus in such a fast-moving field there appears to be no single reference frame which allows all observers to reach the same conclusions in order to compensate for the well-known fact that everyone perceives each poetic event differently, best illustrated in that most famous of all thought experiments; that of the train travelling on the embankment [1]. From the point of view of the man standing on the platform it has just left, the train departed too soon. However, for the man already sitting on the train and who has to attend an important meeting, the train is too late.

Can we develop a theory that will treat both of these view points as valid. It seems that we can. This is achieved by introducing two quantities representing things that are not understood, N and things that are not known, I which act in combination as the product NI. Many have concluded that N is identical with naivety and I with ignorance, but others hold that these conclusions result from erroneous assumptions generated by a local elitism field E. (Here there are two schools of thought;- a) that N and I tend to zero as E tends to zero or b) that they tend to fixed positive values No and Io.)

 From the point of view of the man on the platform, I is the most important factor, but only came into play because N>0. He did not know that the timetable had been changed and imagined that if it had, some announcement would have been made. For the man on the train, N dominated, but only because  I>0. He thought that his presence at the meeting would serve a useful purpose, but did not know that the important decisions had already been made.   

Observation suggests that N and I, acting in combination, can negate the effect of G and even exceed it. Thus for an observer for whom N and /or I are very large, even in the limiting case where W has only two components, for example p1 = Moon, p2 = June,  ΔP will appear to have an amazingly high value (often described as fantastic, incredible or unbelievable).

Many have argued that N and I act directly on W, but others believe their effect to be primarily on the values attributed to pi. This controversy arises from the observation that N tends to distort W, whilst the individual pi values are more susceptible to I. However although N and I can act individually, these effects are vanishingly small compared to those they produce when acting together, and to a good approximation their effect on the poetic content of an event can be expressed by the equation,

ΔP = W -  (Σpi + G - N.I ) ………(3)

which may ultimately lead to the long-sought Theory of Everything, first proposed by Keats J.[2], whose original paper unfortunately contained self-evident inconsistencies.

The non plus ultra is, however, to understand how G interacts with I and N so that boundary conditions may be established. This is a field in which the most exciting developments are anticipated. Although G was originally thought to be a universal constant, there are theoretical grounds to suppose that its value should be increasing as educational achievements rise. Some argue that G sets the level that the product of N and I cannot exceed, as it determines what there is to be naive about, or ignorant of. Others hold the opposing view that both N and I are capable of approaching infinity.


Both of these schools of thought fail to take into account the dynamic aspects of the interaction. G, as its name suggests, is a slow-acting force, whilst N and I often produces results with unfortunate speed. Thus it is possible to reconcile the observed facts by postulating that in the long-term, the product N.I can never equal or exceed G, but that short-term local variations (vacuous fluctuations) are not only possible, but are indeed normal. Thus for a time period that is often considered to be not short enough, the inequality NI>>G can hold.


The reality of such fluctuations is extremely important and forms the basis for a quantum theory of gravitas whereby serious ideas may be ignored for a thought-time/space increment known as plank’s constant because it is long enough to take a step into the unknown, but not to return. This provides a mechanism for quantum tunnelling, leading to what is called ‘thinking outside the box’, a process often, paradoxically, initiated by the weak ingratiating force of plagiarism, which operates everywhere, despite the presence of the strong force c (criticism).

It is worth taking time here to analyse the effects of c and its relationship to the particle of enlightenment, here called the virtual poemon νp, which is generated when any piece of work is done. Usually there is a refractory period when only the worker himself reaches an excited state and the higher the apparent energy of νp, the more excited he becomes. Once released, νp travels at a velocity determined by c. It has become abundantly clear that nothing can move faster than, or escape c, although exceptions have been mooted. When two (or more) sources of c undergo a process known as entanglement, then any output they produce appears to escape the usual restriction. However, closer analysis has shown that in these circumstances the amount of information transmitted is either zero or negative.


One of the most extraordinary and unexpected properties of c is that in the presence of another variable m (= money) it serves to generate itself. The converse of this is that the twin goals of fame and fortune often provide a driving force for the generation of P. Whether or not such interactions between c and m takes place in the real world is a matter for debate, but it is known that c is often negative and sometimes imaginary. Hence the relationship can be formulated as;

iP = mc2 ………(4)

where i denotes the imaginary world, or not, as the case may be. The expression illustrates the potential power of poetry and is thought to underlie the apparent observation that ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’, but this conjecture will remain unproved until the units in which P and c are to be expressed are established. However it does prove what many have long suspected, that poetry is a product of negative, or even imaginary, energy (fig.1). Thus the sum of all possible poetry may indeed be the equivalent of the negative energy present (or more correctly, absent) at the creation of the Universe.

Some workers take the view that m and c interact by the twin mechanisms of positive and negative feedback. Both mechanisms are thought to be more/less significant if the release of νp occurred in the distant past. Their action, which does not depend on the value of νp itself, serves to generate wild fluctuations in the value assigned to ΔP  for a given worker or epoch. Although the equations governing the periodicity have not been fully worked out, the qualitative significance of the effect has been summarised by the expression,

    ‘O tempora, o mores’ [3]


This result provides strong support for the hypothesis that poetry is derived from negative energy. The consequence for the fate of the Universe has been discussed at length by Eliot in his Four Quartets, in particular in the closing lines of East Coker [4], but has been most precisely summarized by the last furtive words of Galileo;

‘scompara su suo culo’.

Further analysis of equation (3) reveals an altogether more powerful result, that poetry must be the sum of all that is left when everything else has been taken away.This finding, first outlined by Tennyson [5], is now seen to apply from the level of the individual to the universe as a whole.     Poetry, either negative or positive, is the debt, or gift, that each leaves in front of them. On the proposition that the universe is cyclic and that information does not pass from one cycle to the next, it becomes clear that poetry is not the story, as implied by its classical definition, but the sense of value that makes the story worth telling, which is related to, or determined by, or is identical with the force field of gravitas.

According to the classical view, gravitas can only be understood by a being of infinite wisdom, of which, by definition, there can only be one. Recent developments indicate that gravitas is itself quantised and that the levels perceived by, for example, dogs or cats are lower than those perceived by human beings and that there must exist a limiting value that can be approached, but only reached as the result of infinite experience, which again, by definition, can never happen.


Einstein A. [1916]  Relativity. Routledge Classics. London and New York.

Keats J. [1819] Ode to a Grecian Urn.

Cicero, M. T. [ - 63] The Cataline Orations.

T S Eliot T S [1940] Four Quartets.

Tennyson A L  [1842]  The poet’s song

Picture. Train travelling between Avon Riverside and Bitton Station, Oct 2007. By kind permission of John Rawlings.